The Universal Typeface Experiment


BIC has started a new campaign where they utilize crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a way of gathering information, ideas, content or the needs of a large group of people. It’s a good way to make people feel like they have contributed to something while your company has the opportunity to collect data and advertise.

To celebrate 100 billion pens manufactured and their new Cristal pen/stylus, through crowdsourcing they want to create the world’s first universal typeface. They’re calling this event the Universal Typeface Experiment. The wonderful thing about this experiment is that everyone who contributes will feel like they are a part of the final product.

Bic Universal Typeface Experiment

Bic Universal Typeface Experiment

They have set up a dedicated website to collect digital handwriting from people around the world. It will be interesting to see how different people write the same letter. The handwritten contributions will then be used to create a new font called the “Universal Typeface” which will be released in August. I would think that this experiment is very challenging for BIC. I love how it shows that in a world that has gone digital, writing by hand is still a preferred medium. I’m excited to see what the new typeface will look like.

Bic Cristal pen

This is a great promotion for BIC. It completely relates to their brand, it gets users engaged and at the end of the day there is a tangible product that is being promoted, the Cristal pen/stylus. What I love about the Cristal pen is that it’s classic. It’s known to be the most commonly used pen, which explains how they got to 100 billion manufactured. It was a smart move turning the Cristal into a pen/stylus; it will carry out what the brand stands for, for many more decades to come.

BIC products are the some of the most commonly used promotional products as well, especially BIC pens. Using a well known brand name product to promote your own brand makes your marketing message that much stronger.

What are your thoughts on a universal font? Will you contribute to the Universal Typeface Experiment? Would you consider getting creative in leveraging crowdsourcing for your brand marketing?

62 thoughts on “The Universal Typeface Experiment

  1. I have to tip my hat to BIC for their ingenuity!

    As someone who writes much better by hand (but who is adapting to technology) and who also has a pen fetish, I think they are going to be successful in selling their products, regardless of the outcome of their experiment. BIC is a brand name recognized worldwide. I think of both pens and lighters when I hear this brand name. Perhaps they would have been more effective, though, if they took a lighter and lit something on fire. 😉

    What an interesting – and clever – experiment.
    Lorraine Reguly recently posted…Blog Awards: What are your views?My Profile

  2. Hi Arleen; That is a very clever promotion that they are running. and i think that it will be cool to have a font that mimics hand writing. i know there are blind people with beautiful hand writing, but I’m not one of them; so I wouldn’t think of submitting for the universal font. I would consider using it however especially in emails as I think it would give people a good feeling to see old style hand written characters in their inbox. of course, then i would have to get someone to help me create a signature to go along with it. I think it would be worth it though. by the way can i get my logo on the crystal pens or are they not out yet? perhaps you could give me a quote. 🙂 thanks for sharing and take care, Max
    maxwell ivey recently posted…The story beginsMy Profile

  3. Hi Arleen,

    BIC sure has a cleaver idea and it’s all about branding. Just goes to show how important branding is.
    This looks like a fun experiment where people can all engage. People like doing things like this and my hat’s off to Bic!
    Of course, I still love to write with a pen, even though everything has gone digital. There is something about the expression in handwriting that is entirely different than the keyboard.
    And yes, a pen STILL is a great promotional product. I have clients calling me from years ago because they held on to one of my “company” pens.
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    • Jacqui- When I sign contracts now they are done by esign. I have to laugh and think that doesn’t look at all like my handwriting. It will be interesting to see if Bic’s idea works. I agree it would be fun to be a part of it. Oh yes handwriting does make us unique. What are doctors going to do when they write a prescription and one can read it. It seems that all doctors are defined by their handwriting- you can’t make it out.
      Arleen recently posted…BIC Crowdsourcing Promo to Create a Universal TypefaceMy Profile

  4. What a unique marketing strategy, to get people to feel like they are a part of something big. I can’t wait to see what the result is. We usually think our handwriting is specific only to ourselves, so the idea of a universal font coming from it is quite intriguing. File this under “why can’t I ever come up with ideas like this?”.
    Meredith Wouters recently posted…Trailing GloryMy Profile

  5. Hi Arleen

    I love it and like others have said it is a great concept by BIC.

    I am sure their brand is far from dying but we are in the digital age and great they have found a way to be creative in it.

    I actually get excited when someone sends me a handwritten note now as it is so uncommon. I must confess my handwriting is so bad I do everything digitally these days.

    Awesome video and post.

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  6. Hi Arleen – I’m sitting here using my BIC pen to keep track of the BHB sites I visit, comment and tweet, and I don’t plan to do away with that anytime soon.
    I think the crowd-sourcing idea is one nifty way to promote. When you feel part of something, of course you’ll end up supporting it. Hats off to the BIC people.
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  7. Hey Arleen, I remember using BIC when I first was allowed to write using a pen in school. It is a pen that has stood the test of time and I still like the feel of a BIC in my hand. I do not have anywhere near a good handwriting and so it would be interesting to see this universal font come up.
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  8. I like everything about Bic’s approach to this. The end result in terms of the universal typeface is a lot less important than the level of engagement and repeat interest . For those with an affection for writing there is affirmation of that. For younger people who may not have the same attachment, it positions Bic as both the forerunner in its field and as being relevant to the technology they are most comfortable with.
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  9. Hi Arleen, The Universal Typeface is a fascinating idea to me. Even though I am technically part of the first generation who grew up on computers, I always do my work by hand on paper first. My thoughts usually just flow so much better that way- especially if I’m not sure exactly what I want to say. I’d love to add my handwriting to the universal typeface, what a picture of universality!

  10. Such a cool idea for BIC to get everyone involved in creating a font or typeface. BIC has always been one of those products that has been around forever from the BIC pen to the BIC Flick lighter and the BIC razor. All disposable but all useful. A great marketing idea that seems so simple yet rung a chord with me.
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  11. Arlene, what an interesting concept and a super smart marketing strategy. For someone who absolutely hates her handwriting, I wouldn’t mind a way out of putting my John Hancock on things (although I do still enjoy journal writing by hand (but then no one has to try to understand my chicken scrawl…lol). Great read…thank you.

  12. I find this to be an interesting way to get people out and participate. At first, I thought you meant it had something to do with the font that we use and in that case, I wasn’t too happy about it. Have to agree with the others in that the end result won’t be as important as the idea that BIC can get so many people out to participate.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s certainly an innovative idea.
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  13. I have always liked writing using a pen and the BIC pen brings back so many memories of my time in Africa where the pen is and was such a precious commodity. I always pick up giveaway pens and sent off to India or Africa where people still value them.

  14. I find typography fascinating and so much can be conveyed with various fonts. So much so that many people don’t often think about the impact a font can have in branding and also readability. I would be curious to see what the universal font looks like. It would be even neater if they could do a universal font for various decades since handwriting has changed so much, plus many students aren’t even being taught cursive anymore…
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  15. Hey Arleen,

    That’s a very clever way to keep BIC in the forefront since I’m sure so many people today are using the internet or some type of software for letter writing etc. Heck, we were digitally doing our signature on paperwork back when I was in corporate America and I’ve been gone for over seven years now. I know that a lot of people are taking pretty much everything online these days so I can see where possibly this is where they’re going with this. It’s definitely getting people to talk.

    I won’t be contributing but it’s still neat.

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  16. Hi Arleen,
    Seems like BIC has come up with a home run on this one. I think the community aspect of crowdsourcing is a very elegant way of drawing people in. A great concept mixed with very ingenious marketing. Now carry that image of a universal typeface a step further. Envision the stories of our lives intertwined and interconnected. I wonder what that picture looks like? I give thought to this idea quite often. 🙂
    William Butler recently posted…The Wisdom of Suffering…My Profile

  17. Hi Arleen,

    Absolutely a clever move by BIC! Talk about creativity!! BIC is a great brand already and it is interesting to see what the universal typeface looks like and where it will lead them to be.

    I think BIC stood out with this smart move. My hat off to BIC!!

    Thanks Arleen for a great share. Have a great rest of the week.

    Be Blessed,

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  18. I agree this is a pretty brilliant promotion. I love that it’s getting the audience involved and that they are planning on creating a universal typeface I think it’s very interesting and I’m excited to see how it turns out.

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